A young person without strong relationships will be easier for traffickers to groom – and exploit without detection. There are a myriad of reasons youth feel like they’re an outcast, don’t fit in, or don’t feel accepted by their peers and family. Even the most “popular” kids sometimes feel like nobody gets them. Some of this is caused by acute issues, but some of this social pressure is typical for adolescence – and this is one reason why being a child is an innate vulnerability.
Today, social media is changing the landscape of “loneliness.” Our current online world leads us to expect nonstop “connection” with others, and that makes youth easier for traffickers to reach. Many youth have thousands of online friends, but can’t tell us a single person they feel they could go to in an emergency.
[My Love146 worker] helped me realize that I am worthy of love and that I am not alone.A Survivor in our Program
Now with distance learning, canceled extracurricular activities, and fewer after-school jobs, many youth don’t feel connected to their friends and trusted adults. And without these face-to-face interactions, adults in the community are less able to watch out for children’s safety and report red flags. Domestic violence, abuse, and neglect are being underreported. In tiny Connecticut alone, from March through August there were 14,000 fewer calls to the child welfare hotline in 2020 compared to 2019.
Social distancing means many children are seeking connections online, and that means traffickers who are online have more opportunity to find, groom, and exploit youth. Understandably, some parents can’t stop working to supervise this increased online time and that means children are even more vulnerable.
Love146 Works to Address Isolation By:
- Bringing a safe adult into a child’s life who’ll watch out for them and who they can turn to for support as long as they need it – we never close a case.
- Building healthy connections with survivors that are stronger than the connections they have with their traffickers.
- Connecting youth with new friends who can empathize, and bring survivors together for adventurous and new experiences, like hiking, mountain climbing, and beach retreats.
- Supporting prevention and survivor care work centered on the power of transformative relationships.
- Putting a prevention curriculum into the hands of thousands of service providers who have preexisting relationships and local community connections with youth.
I do this work because I want to help make a difference in the lives of people who have little to no support, to ensure they are not alone and their voice is heard.A Love146 Survivor Care Team Member
Additional Resources and Organizations:
Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741: Free 24/7 support via text message; here for everything: anxiety, depression, suicide, school, etc…
NAMI Blog: Being Socially Isolated with Mental Illness –A Perspective for Loved Ones